Friday, 5 February 2016

Indy letter on Tory democracy

Tom Peck`s amusing piece, comparing the staunch anti-EU arm of the Tory party with "the full might of the British Empire", jokingly excused Jacob Rees-Mogg "for never quite comprehending that it is no longer 1867" (The day that Cameron took on the British Empire,04/02/16). There can be no excuse as there is a huge difference! In 1867 there was a Tory leader intent, albeit for reasons resembling a basic fear of revolution, on extending democracy, and with his Reform Act of that year, giving the vote to working-class males. At the first opportunity, Disraeli also extended trade union rights and legalised peaceful picketing with his Conspiracy and Protection of Property Act.
     Even Rees-Mogg will have realised that in 2016 we have a Tory prime minister, who like his 19th century predecessor, claims to be supporting "One-Nation" Conservatism, but who is, in fact, attacking the very principles Disraeli propounded. There can be no claims for twenty first century "Tory Democracy" when we have a prime minister not only reducing numbers of those entitled to the franchise, with his individual registration scheme, but also changing constituency borders to favour his own party. Cameron is also reducing financial support for opposition parties by making changes to "short money" allocation, and, as Lord Rennard pointed out, by "removing much trade union funding from the Labour party" without altering "Conservatives` own funding source" (Letters to the Editor,04/02/16).
   When Cameron, with his EU renegotiations, announces that he wants to assert Parliament`s authority over all EU institutions, one wonders whether he is referring to a democratically elected House of Commons having such influence, or one dominated by a Tory party elected by 24% of the electorate!


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